Good news for energy and wildlife-

It is increasingly clear that the building of new coal plants is collapsing as this article indicates as a followup to my post of yesterday, Companies rethink coal plants.

While planning and some actual construction of wind, solar and geothermal plants in remote locations continues, with plenty of hype accompanyhing it, it seems to me that as in the 1970s energy crisis, it will be increased efficiency that wins the day. For example, read this story about building a “smart energy grid.” Stimulus Dollars Energize Efforts To Smarten Up the Electric Power Grid. By Peter Slevin and Steven Mufson. Washington Post.

Building new transmission lines is enormously expensive, and even large solar or wind farms do not supply all that much energy compared to a coal or nuclear plant. Therefore, I am thinking most of these wind and solar electricity facilities will be built next to, or near already existing transmission lines and in or near load centers such as on building roof tops.

The currently largest solar-steam electricity plant in the United States is Solar One. located just south of Henderson and Boulder City, Nevada. I drove by it the other day. See below. It takes up a lot of space and yet “largest” only means generation of 74 megawatts. The typical coal plant today is built in units of 500 to 750 megawatts. I also noticed that Solar One was located right next to a transmission line coming from Hoover Dam on the Colorado.

solar-one1

The Solar One steam-electric plant in Eldorado Valley, Nevada. Feb. 2009. Notice the big transmission line behind the plant. It comes from nearby Hoover Dam. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Awful as the “great recession” has become, one bright side is that it decreases the demand for electricity from what it would otherwise be. This makes is so that lack of electrical energy is not a barrier to economic recovery.

The disruption to wildlife habitat will be less than many believe, despite some scary proposals on the table such as China Mountain on the Idaho/Nevada border, which may indeed be built.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

One Response to Coal plants checked by enviro campaigns, costs

  1. avatar Elkchaser says:

    I hope everyone realizes that these “green” sources of energy have to be subsidized by the government to make them competitive.

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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